Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-cov-2, has spread to just about every corner of the planet. It is highly contagious, spread throughout the air on droplets released when people talk, cough or sneeze, or by contact with viruses left on hard surfaces. Its rapid spread has been aided by humanity’s insatiable appetite for long-distance travel.
Many diseases often target the poorest communities, but Covid-19 paradoxically has infected wealthy and not so wealthy alike. As an illustration of the complexity of combating this disease, take the U.S., where the numbers of cases of infection ad death are the highest in the world, in the world’s most affluent nation. And yet, the burden of the disease hasn’t just hit celebrities, politicians and surgeons. Where it has infiltrated poor communities, it has wreaked the worst damage.
Precise, health-focused information has been one of the keys wherever the fight back against Covid-19 has been most successful. This virus doesn’t care what language you speak or how much money you have. There is no known cure for it and the only defence is to practise good hygiene, keep your distance from others and stay at home as much as possible. Until an effective vaccine is developed, the entire world will have to be in a form of suspension of normal activity.
Up to date Accurate Information is Essential – and in not just the
The most successful communities so far have made sure that everyone in the community is made fully aware of the decisions made by the government, whether these are a suspension of economic activity, lockdowns, testing stations, what to do when symptoms are experienced, etc. Of course, in many nations these days, societies are no longer homogenous. There may be several, sometimes many resident ethnic groups, whose members may speak a language other than the official language of that country. Effective translation by professional translators is absolutely essential if there is going to be any chance of combating this new and potentially deadly virus.
Covid-19 resources need to be translated into all the main languages spoken in the country. Most of these can be made available online for free on government health websites. Many countries have become used to daily press conferences in which government health officials give an update on the progress of the disease and announce any new changes in the strategy that the government chooses to employ. Where there is more than one main language, these often swiftly changing instructions must reach every corner of the community. Poorly translated information means that the whole society could be at risk from someone who is doing the wrong thing, without realising the potential effect he/she may be having on the rest of the community.
Don’t forget Immigrant Workers
One obvious example of just why translation is important in this Covid-19 dominated period is to remember just how many essential workers are immigrants, some who have been in the country for a long time, others on temporary work visas. A single infected person who hasn’t understood the importance of getting medical attention, being tested or just staying away from work can lead to a chain reaction and a rapid explosion of infections in a vulnerable community like a residential home for the elderly or a hospital ward.
Leaflets, posters, interpreters, adverts and government-sponsored material of all kinds including website downloads should be devoted to targeting these often forgotten communities. Translators may be no longer as needed as they were until recently for worldwide travel, but they are certainly in much demand to help the fight against the virus.